Georgia's Signature Holiday Events

From lights to parades, and from festivals to train rides with Santa, Georgia gets decked out for the holidays.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

From the mountains to the coast, here are the state’s signature holiday events that the entire family will enjoy.

Holiday Light Displays

Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens
Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens

Fantasy In Lights at Callway Gardens

Callaway Gardens' Fantasy In Lights is not only the South’s most spectacular holiday light and sound show, it is one of the world's "Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights," as named by "National Geographic Traveler." Shop in the Christmas Village, listen to story time with Mrs. Claus or ride the Christmas Train.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

The annual electrical extravaganza features spectacular light displays throughout the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The massive Tunnel of Light along with favorites such as the Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest and Model Trains continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition.

Magical Nights of Lights at Lanier Islands

Twinkling lights come to life, transforming the Lanier Islands landscape with pictures of Christmas wishes. Journey to Santa’s Holiday Village, where kids can share their Christmas wishes with the big man himself and grab a photo memory of their special meeting.

Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights

This award-winning light extravaganza at Rock City Gardens features more than 30 holiday scenes that transform the gardens' natural daytime splendor into a nocturnal fantasyland. Visit with St. Nick and his elves! Enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating, hot cocoa, Sugar Plum Fairy makeovers and nightly entertainment in the North Pole Lodge.

Parades

Illuminated Christmas Parade in Hinesville, Georgia
Illuminated Christmas Parade in Hinesville, Georgia

Annual Illuminated Christmas Parade in Hinesville

Enjoy the twinkling lights and holiday cheer at this annual event featuring lighted floats designed by community groups. You'll be amazed at the variety and creativity on display in the parade!

Christmas Extravaganza in McRae-Helena

Bring your jingle bells, wear your craziest Christmas shirt and jingle all the way on the 1-mile walk through town. Afterward, enjoy entertainment, visit Santa, make s'mores and shop!

Downtown Christmas Parade in Moultrie

This evening parade is known as one of the largest in South Georgia. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season at this festive event.

Dublin Christmas Parade

Kick off the holiday season with The Exchange Club of Dublin’s Christmas Parade. Stretching over a mile through the Bellevue and Downtown Historic Districts, the Christmas Parade adds a touch of wonder and delight! Don’t miss Dublin Christkindlmarket, which brings a taste of Germany to Dublin during weekends in November and December.

Festivals

Carolers at the Victorian Christmas Festival in Thomasville
Carolers at the Victorian Christmas Festival in Thomasville

Annual Victorian Christmas Festival in Thomasville

Carriage rides with jingle bells and twinkling lights set the stage for a truly unforgettable experience. Carolers sing traditional favorites while colorful characters capture your imagination with street theater. Community sing-alongs, chestnut roasting and marshmallow toasting will put you in the mood for Christmas. Festival favorites include live musical entertainment, carriage rides, a live nativity and a winter wonderland for children! 

Stone Mountain Christmas

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, where the true magic of the season is in the air. Enjoy the glow of more than 2 million lights, festive music and visits from some your favorite holiday characters. Start a new tradition and create memories that will last a lifetime for your kids...and you.

Christmas at The Rock Ranch

Families can hop on board The Rock Ranch Christmas Express Train ride, featuring falling snow, a snowflake tunnel and a dancing Christmas lights show. Other activities include a tractor/trolley ride through more than a mile of lights, Santa’s workshop, visits with Santa, dinner, hot chocolate, and shopping for gifts and Georgia-grown goodies!

Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega

Don’t miss the Lighting of Downtown Dahlonega, the Christmas Parade and Lighting of the Tree, and visit with Santa various dates. Enjoy live entertainment, wine tastings, caroling, extended shopping hours and more holiday festivities.

Home Tours

Madison Holiday Tour of Homes
Madison Holiday Tour of Homes

Madison's Holiday Tour of Homes

It’s the perfect seasonal delight for adults or a grand Georgia welcome for out-of-town visitors. Madison’s Christmas Tour of Homes invites visitors to explore Madison’s most beautiful and iconic homes decked out for the holiday season. Even more spectacular: explore the grandeur by candlelight!

Antebellum Christmas at the Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville

Embrace the smell of fresh-cut Frasiers and chestnuts on the fire as Milledgeville's Old Governor’s Mansion transforms into a beautiful representation of what Christmas looked like in the time period before the Civil War. Every room is dressed with authentic period decorations - from streamers in the children’s room to poinsettias, holly branches and gorgeous ribbons in other rooms and parlors. For an especially unique experience, take a candlelight tour.

Christmas Tour of Homes in Washington

Join the Christmas party at Merry Oaks Plantation on Friday evening, and spend Saturday glimpsing inside expertly preserved private homes showcasing some of the finest architectural details of the Old South. Complete the weekend with the Holiday Parade of Lights Saturday evening. 

Holiday Tour of Homes in Savannah

The self-guided tour will take you on a stroll through some of the most picturesque parts of historic, downtown Savannah. 

Holiday Train Rides

Santa Express in Blue Ridge
Santa Express in Blue Ridge

Santa Express in Blue Ridge

Enjoy a daytime fun-filled train ride with Santa on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. While on board, your family will hear the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” story, sing carols and visit with Christmas characters and Santa.

Santa Express in St. Marys

The magic of Christmas comes alive at Santa Land where Jolly Old St. Nick himself boards the train for the return ride with gifts for all the good little boys and girls. Enjoy entertainment all along the way on the St. Marys Express.

Holiday Train Rides on SAM Shortline

Join the special ride to Plains to see President and Mrs. Carter light up the town, ride the North Pole Express, eat breakfast with Santa on the train, and more!

Holiday Getaways

Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee

Christmas at the The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee

Enjoy breakfast with Santa, the Lighting at the Lake, ice skating, story time with Mrs. Claus, gingerbread workshops and elf tuck-ins. The resort offers winter warmth and luxurious tidings for guests each holiday season. A must-see for the holidays is the one-of-a-kind, life-sized gingerbread house that is created by the pastry team. This holiday treat, made with gingerbread, 180 pounds of candy and 480 pounds of icing, will be on display for guests’ delight throughout the holidays.


Lesli is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365 Atlanta Traveler, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families.

Published: December 2015
Written by: Lesli Peterson